What is Mobility as a Service (MaaS)?

Today’s transportation ecosystems are undergoing a paradigm shift that is reshaping and reimagining how we get from point A to B

Mobility as a Service (MaaS)—sometimes dubbed the ‘Netflix of transportation’—is a unified platform that efficiently services all your travel needs, door-to-door, in one simple-to-use application. Unlike Netflix’s library of movies & series, MaaS provides users with an all-encompassing bundle of on-demand transit options like Uber-style ride-sharing, “pop-up” bus services and micro-mobility modes like e-scooter and bike sharing. The point is to get you from first mile to last in a way that’s most efficient and convenient—you are always at the centre of this hyper-connected and collaborative universe.

Think of MaaS as a superorganism in an all-in-one ecosystem, where various data-driven modes of transportation and mobility work cooperatively in unison for the sole benefit of the user. MaaS enables frictionless journey planning on both public and private transportation, with additional technology providers filling the gaps. Cubic Telecom’s software solutions, for instance, can provide route optimisation based on traffic patterns for a seamless journey. Open communication and data-sharing between all MaaS actors will ultimately be key to its success.

Innovative mobility services are needed now more than ever. By 2050, “two out of every three people are likely to be living in cities or other urban centres” the UN estimates. With population centres outstretched – coupled with outdated systems and deteriorating infrastructure – improving public transport becomes a central tenet of MaaS. Better utilisation of private vehicles, fleets, and existing transport infrastructure will all need to be considered. The very notion of turning your private car into a money-making Airbnb-like asset is already making waves across automotive circles, with unique revenue models still being explored.

Making sense of MaaS

MaaS is not a monolith—it can be viewed as both an abstract concept for future transport as well as a digital platform accessed straight from a smartphone that allows users to plan, pay and move frictionless through their journey using real-time data. With pay-as-you-go or a monthly Netflix-style subscription with unlimited multimodal transit, it works to optimise journey planning and improve speed, cost and overall efficiency. By 2030, it’s expected that revenues from mobility services will reach almost $1.2 trillion, with potential benefits impacting everything from road congestion (we spend a big chunk of our lives sitting in traffic) to improving sustainability and mitigating our impact on the environment.

Efforts to conceptualise MaaS depend on where you are and who you’re asking. It is widely understood – at least at the onset – that MaaS will evolve differently across a wide spectrum of cityscapes and regions—but always acting as a unifying system for the betterment of users travel options. As digital technologies embed themselves all around us, MaaS players like Cubic Telecom can enable next-gen communications -between vehicles, pedestrians, infrastructure etc. – for tomorrow’s smart cities. MaaS aims to answer the needs of its locality, fuelled by the ethos that getting from point A to B should be easy, seamless and cost-effective, everywhere and all the time.

MaaS is about co-habitation and co-existence of converging players in software, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), connectivity, autonomous vehicles, electrification and intelligent communications. This multi-layered, multi-actor platform—from both the public and private spheres—can only flourish if everyone moves together with a common purpose. With MaaS, the only metric of any worth is consumer satisfaction, as user mobility habits will ultimately drive the scene forward.

The digital road ahead

There is no clear roadmap for how MaaS will unfold, but once it arrives en masse, it will forever change the way we think about movement—both of people and of goods. MaaS will disrupt entire industries, but it will also help reinvent them and generate exciting new business models. How will OEMs leverage their industry expertise to build and dominate this ecosystem, moving from manufacturers to service providers? What will we even think of private car ownership in the coming decades as we move towards shared mobility? With attitudes shifting, issues like sustainable urban transport are taking centre stage. Most significantly, MaaS will usher in a new era to help you get where you want, when you want and how you want.

Integration of these new or enhanced mobility services will come in cascades, requiring cooperation and collaboration to ensure the benefit of all and not some. MaaS cannot survive in an environment that’s not fully and completely user-centric. We don’t know what this ecosystem will look like yet, or all its potential benefits and challenges, but it is inevitable that all roads lead to MaaS. Cubic’s global software technologies are already playing an integral role in helping unify this ecosystem for today and tomorrow.